Larry Hazzard, who headed the New Jersey State Athletic Control Board for 22 years before being unceremoniously ousted in 2007, will soon be returning to his post as commissioner, according to the Press of Atlantic City.
While this news may not mean much to most of the folks out there, especially given Hazzard’s extensive background in boxing officiating, it’s big news for the MMA community. Hazzard, you see, was the lone athletic commissioner in all of the United States willing to give the Unified Rules and the sanctioning of MMA a chance back in 2000. It was his willingness that ultimately opened up the door for other jurisdictions – such as Nevada and California – to follow suit. In addition, the state-sanctioning of amateur MMA was developed under his watch, which is a further testament to Hazzard’s progressive stance on the regulation of fights in the cage.
Hazzard himself sported a martial arts background, and during his 22-year tenure, was both well-liked and respected throughout the industry.
Current commissioner Aaron Davis will be moving on to another post within the New Jersey government. Nick Lembo, chief legal counsel for the commission, will remain on board.